Monday, June 2, 2008

New Album alert: Neil Halstead

I'm a bit slow hearing about this one, but I'm so excited I can barely stand it. He's also touring the States for the first time in forever this summer (supporting Jack Johnson) but unfortunately they appear to be all stadium shows. And the closest one to NYC is in Jersey. Ah well. I'll just keep my fingers crossed that he'll come through the City later in the year once his new album is out.

Man. What with Neil's new album coming out and Bob's show in Prospect Park, this August is shaping up to be pretty awesometown.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Roo turns 30. It's true.

Robert Frost says: Time and tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thirty.

I say: Just because it’s standing still, doesn’t mean it has to be quiet!

Music Starts at 8pm. Bring your earplugs, your liver, and your friends. After all, Frost also said that hell is a half-filled auditorium.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I Know Who Made My Bed: Colour Revolt @ the Mercury Lounge

I went to the Mercury Lounge last night to check out Snowden, which is a band I'd already seen live once before about a year ago (also at the Merc, if memory serves). I really like them--their Anti-Anti album consistently goes through periods of heavy rotation in my library--and have been dying for them to come back 'round to the City so I could see them again. But not dying enough, apparently, to wait through a headcount for the Fire Warden (although, honestly, I think the Merc was just trying to pack more people inside). Eyeroll. I guess that's what I get for hitting up Happy Hour beforehand...and on a school night.

However, despite my lameness in skipping out on the band I actually went to see, I did manage to catch the entire Colour Revolt opening set. And it was awesome.

I will admit that I have a sentimental soft spot for Oxford, Mississippi, so when I found out a couple hours before they went on that they are based out of Oxford I was probably irrationally predisposed to like them. But they happily exceeded my crazy expectations with their driving beat and their guitar-heavy sound. [Incidentally, it was probably a good thing that I could only see the lead singer from my particular vantage point because I generally have little patience for bands with too many guitarists (3 guitars and 1 bass in this particular case)...seeing the set up might have changed my favorable predisposition to a more dismissive one. I know, I know...there is no rhyme or reason.]

Since I only really saw the lead singer (and guitar player), Jesse Coppenbarger, I can only comment on his particular performance by mentioning that I was impressed with the sound he pushed out of his seemingly-slight frame. He has a great sense of phrasing and styling.

On a related note: I was excited enough about the show last night that I downloaded their new full-length album this morning (Plunder, Beg, and Curse) and I will say that, although some are quite good, some songs are a disappointment...especially when I had the live versions of these songs fresh in my head. But this is a young band and judging from the performance last night I have to say I'm really excited to see where they go from here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Then Again, the Same Old Story: Updates

So, this is where I've been hiding out the past five days. I know that it doesn't quite explain my extended absence from Morland it goes.

In my absence, I also made it up to I-Town for Record Store Day a couple (three?) weeks ago. Because there's really only one independent record store that I hold near and dear to my heart. (Even though they update their website even less frequently than I do...ahem.)

Overall, I have enjoyed my recent ventures from the City. I find New York to be a bit overwhelming at times and it's been good to see trees and mountains and space. I'm already planning my next escape and I'm thinking it might have to be Texas.

I have only seen one show in the past month, which is partly why I've been so quiet, and it was a repeater to boot. I didn't have much to add about Josh Ritter's performance from what I already said last fall so devoting a whole post to the show seemed uncalled for at the time. Suffice it to say, he's still one of my favorites and still puts on one hell of a show. I mean, any man that can get a room full of Williamsburg hipsters to partner up with strangers and waltz around the room mid-set is alright by me. (The picture of the set list for this show was posted by urockrock on Flickr; see more pics here.)

In other news: I quit my job and will soon be joining the ranks of under-paid creative types that hang around the City. I'm hoping the change of pace will allow me more time to check out music around town and that, in turn, will translate into more updates on Morland. Famous last words.

And, finally, clear your schedule the evening of June 7th: in true wannabe-rockstar-fashion I have organized a great line-up of bands to play at a venue in Chinatown to celebrate my 30th. Details forthcoming.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wistful Thinking

People that know me well, or even slightly, also know that I love music and listen to it a lot. It's one of those aspects of my personality that I'm sure comes across very quickly. After all, I was one of those people that carried a stack of cd's and a player around with them at all times in the pre-iPod era. (God, I'm glad those days are behind me.)

When it comes to the music I like, there are some things that stick out right away as themes. However, I would hesitate to say I have a particular type of music that I prefer above all others. For lack of a better explanation, I usually say I like "musically interesting" songs...which is really a vague way of saying, even more vaguely, "I know it when I hear it." I played in a lot of orchestras in my childhood (cello) and I'm pretty sure my ear has been trained through that experience--while I can't always vocalize why something is interesting, I somehow can just hear the same way I was trained to pay attention to and integrate with the workings behind great orchestral arrangements.

I do not, however, have any pretensions about my abilities as a musician. I was at the time and, figuratively speaking, still am the perfect orchestra member: capable, with no soloist inclinations. Which is only to say, I have no idea what makes a good musician tick. I have enough knowledge and experience to appreciate it when I see it, but understanding is beyond me.

But now, there is a new blog on the NY Times, Measure for Measure, that can offer me (and many others like me) the opportunity to get into the head of that fascinating character, the singer/songwriter. Andrew Bird and Roseanne Cash, among others, are purporting to give the reader a behind-the-scenes look at the songwriting process and I have to say I find the project fascinating. I'm not sure if it will get me any closer to understanding, but I recommend you check it out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Beware the Ides of March

The middle and end of March hit Morland like a Mack truck. I was in the longest-lasting and worst mood I can remember in years. I don't really have a convincing explanation for it, although I do have more than a handful of partially-convincing arguments for it. Perhaps it was all of that rolled together. In any case, I'm pulling out of it and getting back in gear (no little thanks goes to JM for entertaining me this past weekend in DC). And below is a brief recap of the past couple weeks:

I saw one of the worst shows I've ever seen a couple weeks ago. I'd mention the band but I don't think I could be constructive in my criticism. I was really looking forward to this show and, rather unfortunately for him, had convinced my friend JV to come along with me. It was a good thing for me that I did since he kept me sane, and tipsy, throughout. I also discovered, although I guess I've always known, that I'm a bit of an elitist. Go figure.

I saw a great great show too. I was lucky enough to catch Beth Orton at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on the 30th of March. She played an acoustic set of gems from her previous albums and generally charmed me from start to finish. And the MHW had arranged the space into a seated venue, which also added to the charm and intimacy of the experience. I've always loved her work, which is electronica-spiced folk, but hearing her play her songs unplugged really opened my eyes to the depth of her talent. And gave further credence to the (perhaps grand) claim that she is the "female Van Morrison." It was lovely, all round.

I have been enjoying the music that people have been dropping me (see the widget on the right sidebar). It really has served the purpose of introducing me to music that I have not heard yet. I do intend on somehow working those songs back into Morland in some way or another, but for now I just wanted to say thanks for the songs thus far.

I have also been enjoying my new obsession, the John Adams mini-series on HBO. It's brilliant.

Lastly, for my friends I haven't spoken to in a while: the Fabry screening is happening (finally) next Monday - Wednesday. I will keep you updated.

**The sweet picture of the Beth Orton show comes from the doubtful guest's flikr page. See more here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Almost Don't Belive It

Well, it looks as if it's really happening this time: I just found out that Portishead is emerging from the depths with their (repeatedly) promised third album. While I won't say it about every band with the power to instantaneously take me back to my dorm-room years, I will say I'm excited to see what Portishead has up their sleeve. Afterall, I still listen to Dummy every now and again. But, 11 years is a long time: just look at poor Axl.